Just came back from Hilversum, Netherlands, where AgileOpen Europe 2007 took place.
As usual, I leave with this feeling of having spent 3 days in some kind of parallel world, where people all care about Agile, where they all are willing to talk about it with you, and where they are actually being friendly. Hard to believe that my employer agreed to pay me for this!
When talking to people in my company after the event, I realized that the crowd was rather different from the one attending, say, CITCON or XP Day Paris. Indeed, many were interested in human interactions, as opposed to technical solutions. Technical aspect were discussed as well, but they represented a relatively small proportion of the sessions. Instead, there were a number of talks on emotional contagions, facilitation, retrospectives, which were great too, BTW. I was a rare one to arrange a demo of Hudson, a continuous integration tool I like. Lastly, it is interesting to note that, apparently, at least 3 people had never done serious programming, while others were only doing facilitation these days.
The most complete notes that I have taken (on sessions Measuring Agile and Facilitation) have been abducted to be scanned and put on the website, so I don’t have them with me anymore. I did take some notes on other sessions, though, plus took a number of photographs.
OpenSpace on OpenSpace
I arrived (late) one day before the official start of the conference to join the OpenSpace on OpenSpace part. In practice, it had been mostly organized *before* the organization part, but well, we still had input to provide.
Most of it was very mundane and addressed practical things for this conference:
- how long should a session last? (1h15)
- when should the next one start (15 mins later, to provide time for taking down notes)
- who is allowed to change the time when a session would start (only the owner of the session, not just any participant like at CITCON London)
One good idea reported by Diana Larsen was to use helpers that would carry a sticker “ask me about OpenSpace”. They would also ensure that people that suggest a session properly put the title and their own name on the index card, chose a timeslot, etc.
Which led me to suggest that students could be handy to type in the proceedings from each session after they have been handed to them. Of course, this was not possible here, so the proceedings were simply scanned.
I also suggested using a Parking Lot for ideas that would come up during the day. Most people thought that it was a good idea, but eventually it was not used — and I must admit that I didn’t particularly miss it.
Another interesting note was that, according to the experience of some people (including Diana and myself) it appears not trivial to hold OpenSpace conferences at regular intervals. It can become boring for some of the participants if the theme is not renewed (I’ve seen that happened at Valtech). At least one company does it well, with one OpenSpace event every 6 months.
One last thought: I’ve noticed that the rules are quite Voltairian or, rather, Panglossian. “What have happened is that only thing that could have happened”, “whenever it starts is the right time”, etc. Have you read Candide? Doesn’t that remind you of “All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds”?
All the proceedings from the conference are available on the AgileOpen website.